Starlit Mission, Carmel
Charles Rollo Peters
Staff Pick | Monthly Muse September 2021
I think about Charles Rollo Peters standing in front of this mission, waiting for his eyes to adjust as night falls. The delicacy in the light transitions caught my interest—and prompted me to consider how I perceive the world once the sun has set. The mission in Starlit Mission, Carmel is painted just off-center, appearing still and dormant as if it were sleeping in the night. There is an atmospheric density within the painting, that feels like the night is blanketing the canvas. Though it is a nocturne (a painting style that depicts scenes evocative of the night), there is a strong presence of light that allows a revelation of detail in the work. This light warms the aerial perspective, illuminating the stars in the night sky, and the impression of a dirt road.
Though the painting is enveloped in darkness, none of the shadows are in an absolute black tone. The absence of black conjures a warm, human feeling as if the mission is breathing. The night will bring the new day, and life will once again resume within the walls. For me, the painting speaks about transitional time and space—capturing darkness when it is quiet and heavy.
Hiroshi Richard Clark
Graduate Student Assistant Researcher (Collections Department)